I woke up super early this morning (must have been my nap yesterday that caught me up on my sleep!) so I got up to make a hot cup of tea for my scratchy throat, and got to thinking that I should make the most of this time where its just me awake and write up Part 3 to the Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill.
I know it has been a while so to refresh your memory you can find the Intro, Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Last time was focusing on setting your budget for your groceries and thinking about your goals for your grocery shopping, what drives you in your shopping (i.e being super frugal or being Green conscious) and how much you are wanting to spend/save, plus a few other things.
This post I thought I would touch on the stockpile. This is what has kept us going over the tighter times in the last wee while and also while I have been so busy, I have been relying on my stockpile to stretch things out. I just wish I had started stockpiling a long time ago!
I first read and became enthused about creating a stockpile through Rhonda Jean's Blog Down to Earth. Here, here and here are a few of Rhonda's posts on stockpiling, but there are many more that she has written about also which you can find on her blog.
Every cook is different, every kitchen pantry is different thus meaning every stockpile will be different. You can look at my stockpile and see that it is different to Rhonda Jean's and will be different to even my closest two friends who also live simply. So where to start? Well I pondered on this point for a while when I first started out with our stockpile, so your not alone if you are doing this, it can be a daunting thought. Before I started mine I had hauled out my pantry contents and cleaned it all up and sorted out new containers that I needed and labelled everything so I could see exactly what I had on hand easily (I discussed this in Part 1).
Then I decided how I was to start my stockpile. I shop fortnightly but often come home with a good surplus (although recently prices have risen again! as less is coming home even though I have not changed the way I shop), so using this surplus I decided to set my stockpile up straight away and set it up with a months worth of ingredients to supply my pantry. At that time I also decided I wanted to try shopping monthly.....long story short, I tried a few months shopping monthly and then reverted back to fortnightly simply due to a monthly shop seemed to take me ages in the supermarket and I will confess I got over that part! So my stockpile I still stock to a monthly quota as I had that available to me already but I shop fortnightly. This works well as I am not buying everything at once to stock up, I have found I can really make things stretch and I can take great advantage of specials. If you don't have the advantage on having some surplus on hand to do one big stockpile shop, then work it into your shopping. Even if you decide that you can afford to buy 2 or 4 things (when on special mind!) to add to your stockpile then do so, it could be as simple as coming across flour on special and buying 3 bags instead of 1...now you have a small supply of flour. By changing your shopping methods I hope that you will soon start having a grocery surplus fund in which case building your stockpile will become easier, and as you stockpile you will begin to spend less in your normal shop.
Next is the question of where to store your stockpile? I decided with the help of MrW where to store our stockpile. I will confess here..we don't own a big freezer....(I'm working on it!) so we couldn't follow what Rhonda Jean does, but we did have a little cupboard that is built into our kitchen bench on the outside of it (like something you'd store phone books in or in our case had loaded up with the kids art supplies). Maybe you have space at the bottom of your pantry to store goods, or in a hall cupboard. Wherever you decide just ensure it is dry and no rodents/bugs can get into it.
Following on from here, I was stuck on how much I needed to buy...so I created my own kitchen inventory level list. Crazy I know but hey it worked for me! I separated it into groups i.e baking goods/canned goods/cleaning goods/cleaning goods etc. Then I worked out how much of each item I would expect to use in a month. This may seem a hard task, but if you are unsure then think about what you would normally buy in a standard shop (how many flours, sugar etc) and multiply that to make it into a months worth. I know I go through 3 high grade flours in a fortnight making bread so I keep a stock to either a 5 kilo of flour and a bag or two extra or 6 x 1.5kg bags of flour, depending on whats on special at the time. Then you want to make sure with each shop that you are stocking up to or above that amount. You can always adjust your inventory levels once you get a feel for what you are using.
So after making this list up, I was able to go out and create my stockpile shop. It was a great feeling loading up our little 'larder' with our stockpile :) Once something has been used up in the pantry, it comes out of the stockpile to replace it.
When I go shopping now, I use my inventory list to make my shopping list, which makes creating it super easy as I am no longer guessing as to what will last through the fortnight and what won't! and I also don't miss items off the list! By stocking to a months worth, it enables me to really take advantage of the specials, and my list is flexible so if I need say canned peaches, and I know I have two in the larder already, if they aren't on special I don't buy them. However if they are I will buy another 3 or so. I am then set for peaches for a good month or two. If I am tight on my budget that fortnight I will work my stockpile to my advantage and will only buy the items I KNOW I will run out of by the next fortnight or I use a lot of and can leave stocking the larder back up until the next shop.
I tend to browse the isles for specials, but ONLY take advantage of them is a) I can afford to and b) they are a really good special and c) they are actually something I stock (so I am not meaning potato chips on special!). If flour is on special for only 10cents off, but I only need 1 bag in the shop, I will only buy 1 bag and not extra as the special isn't worthwhile, I will have other items on higher discount that I can stock up on instead. But if it were 50cents+ off I would more than likely get 2 or 3 extra to take advantage of the discount and won't need to buy any for a couple of shops. Anyway I'm sure you get my drift! :)
If you are building your stockpile a little at a time, I feel it is still a good idea to write out your inventory stock level list. Then take this with you, and you can then buy what you can afford according to your list.
Well I think that is all for now on the stockpile, there is plenty of information on the net regarding stockpiling, and your always welcome to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions. I best be off, it's time for school and kindy now ;)